Database Programming Assignment ("Lab PM")

Chalmers/GU TDA357/DIT620
LP3, 2018

Modified by Aarne Ranta from earlier years' specifications by many other teachers at Chalmers and GU


The purpose of this assignment is to give you hands-on experience with designing, constructing and using a database for a real-world-like domain. You will see all aspects of database creation, from understanding the domain to using the final database from external applications.

Assignment submission and deadlines

To pass the programming assignment, you must pass all five tasks described on this page. You will do the assignment in groups of two.

You must submit your solutions through the Fire reporting system.

You must submit your group's solutions to each task by the given deadline, which are given on the course web page. After submission, your assignment will be graded ("pass" or "reject") and you will receive comments on your solution (for tasks 1, 2, and 3). If your submission is rejected, you are allowed to refine your solution and re-submit it. There will be set of automated test to preliminarily grade your assignment.

To pass the final part of the assignment, you must demonstrate your system to one of the teachers. Your files for task 4 must be uploaded to the Fire system after you have demonstrated your system, and before the task 4 deadline.


In this assignment you will design and construct a database, together with a front end application, that handles university students and courses. You will do this in four distinct tasks:

  1. Construction: create the database and explore it with queries
  2. Design: take a step back and redesign the database from a more theoretical point of view
  3. Usage: define more constraints and triggers to maintain the database
  4. Interface: write a wrapper program to permit database access without explicit use of SQL

All of the tasks are related to each other. They deal with the same database, and tasks 3 an 4 build on task 1. Task 2 is an independent analysis and sanity check on task 1. (In previous years, the Design task 2 was made before the Construction task 1. We have swapped the order for two reasons:

For each task you will hand in and get feedback on your results. Since errors in one task may propagate to the next one, it is wise to hand in your solutions early to get more chances for feedback.

Be sure to read through the full description of the assignment before you start since the requirements we place on the system must influence your initial design as well.

Domain description

The domain that you will model in this assignment is that of courses and students at a university. So as not to make the task too large and unspecified, you will here get a description of the domain that restricts the problem somewhat. Note that the described domain is not identical to Chalmers or GU.

The university for which you are building this system is organized into departments for employees, such as the Dept. of Computing Science (CS), and study programmes for students, such as the Computer Science and Engineering programme (CSEP). Programmes are hosted by departments, but several departments may collaborate on a programme, which is the case with CSEP that is co-hosted by the CS department and the Department of Computer Engineering (CE). Department names and abbreviations are unique, as are programme names but not necessarily abbreviations.

Each study programme is further divided into branches, for example CSEP has branches Computer Languages, Algorithms, Software Engineering etc. Note that branch names are unique within a given programme, but not necessarily across several programmes. For instance, both CSEP and a programme in Automation Technology could have a branch called Interaction Design. For each study programme, there are mandatory courses. For each branch, there are additional mandatory courses that the students taking that branch must read. Branches also name a set of recommended courses from which all students taking that branch must read a certain amount to fulfill the requirements of graduation, see below.

A student always belongs to a programme. Students must pick a single branch within that programme, and fulfill its graduation requirements, in order to graduate. Typically students choose which branch to take in their fourth year, which means that students who are in the early parts of their studies may not yet belong to any branch.

Courses are given by a department (e.g. CS gives the Databases course), and may be read by students reading any study programme. Some courses may be mandatory for certain programmes, but not so for others. Students get credits for passing courses, the exact number may vary between courses (but all students get the same number of credits for the same course). Some, but not all, courses have a restriction on the number of students that may take the course at the same time. Courses can be classified as being mathematical courses, research courses or seminar courses. Not all courses need to be classified, and some courses may have more than one classification. The university will occasionally introduce other classifications. Some courses have prerequisites, i.e. other courses that must be read before a student is allowed to register to it.

Students need to register for courses in order to read them. To be allowed to register, the student must first fulfill all prerequisites for the course. It should not be possible for a student to register to a course unless the prerequisite courses are already passed. It should not be possible for a student to register for a course which they have already passed.

If a course becomes full, subsequent registering students are put on a waiting list. If one of the previously registered students decides to drop out, such that there is an open slot on the course, that slot is given to the student who has waited the longest. When the course is finished, all students are graded on a scale of 'U', '3', '4', '5'. Getting a 'U' means the student has not passed the course, while the other grades denote various degrees of success.

A study administrator can override both course prerequisite requirements and size restrictions and add a student directly as registered to a course. (Note: you will not implement any front end application for study administrators, only for students. The database must still be able to handle this situation.)

For a student to graduate there are a number of requirements she must first fulfill. She must have passed (have at least grade 3) in all mandatory courses of the study programme she belongs to, as well as the mandatory courses of the particular branch that she must have chosen. Also she must have passed at least 10 credits worth of courses among the recommended courses for the branch. Furthermore she needs to have read and passed (at least) 20 credits worth of courses classified as mathematical courses, 10 credits worth of courses classified as research courses, and one seminar course. Mandatory and recommended courses that are also classified in some way are counted just like any other course. As an example, if one of the mandatory courses of a programme is also a seminar course, students of that programme will not be required to read any more seminar courses.

System Specification

You will design and implement a database for the above domain, and a front end application intended for students of the university. Through the application they should be able to see their own information, register to, and unregister from courses.

Formally, your application should have the following modes:

- Info: Given a students national identification number, the system should provide

- the name of the student, the students national identification number and their university issued login name/ID (something similar to how the CID works for chalmers students) - the programme and branch (if any) that the student is following. - the courses that the student has read, along with the grade. - the courses that the student is registered to. - whether or not the student fulfills the requirements for graduation

- Register: Given a student id number and a course code, the system should try to register the student for that course. If the course is full, the student should be placed in the waiting list for that course. If the student has already passed the course, or is already registered, or does not meet the prerequisites for the course, the registration should fail. The system should notify the student of the outcome of the attempted registration, and the reason for failure (if any). - Unregister: Given a student id number and a course code, the system should unregister the student from that course. If there are students waiting to be registered, and there is now room on the course, the one first in line should be registered for the course. The system should acknowledge the removed registration for the student. If the student is not registered to the course when trying to unregister, the system need not notify this, but no student from the waiting list (if applicable) should be promoted in that case.

Task 1: Constructing the database

Your task is to construct the database by implementing the database schema in a database engine (PostgreSQL). The schema is explained abstractly in this file:

Abstract schema for database task 1

You should implement the schema with CREATE TABLE statements that

Thus you should create all tables, marking key and foreign key constraints in the process, and you should also insert checks that ensure that only valid data can be inserted in the database. Examples of invalid data would be the grade '6', or a course that takes a negative number of students.

When you have created the tables, you should fill the tables with example data. This can be time-consuming, but it is an important part of the development of a database. Having data in the database is crucial in order to properly verify that it behaves the way that you expect it to. You should fill the tables with enough data so that it is possible to test that your application can handle the various operations specified above. Just inserting tons of data is of no use if the data still doesn't test all parts of the database. Here is a (very) non-exhaustive list of data you will need to include:

Important: When you insert data in the database, do it by writing the insert statements in a file that can then be executed. This way you won't have to re-do all the work if there is something that you need to change with the table.

Since you know exactly what information your application will need from the database, in what forms, it is a good idea to write views that provide that information in a simple form. In a real setting, we would even ensure using privileges that the application cannot work with anything but these views. Unfortunately we cannot let you test working with privileges on the PostgreSQL machine we use, but we will still expect your application to adhere to the privileges we list.

Following the system specification, create these views:

Note that SQL code should be in plain text format. Make sure that PostgreSQL can execute your files before you hand them in. Test this by clearing out your database and then running your SQL files again.

Task 2: Database design

The task in this lab is to take a look back at the database implemented in Lab 1 and check how we should have done it. More precisely, we will

There are many interesting outcomes that may result from this study:

E-R model

Your first task is to create an E-R diagram that correctly models the domain described in the Domain description above.

You can use any tool you like for this task, as long as you hand in your solution as an image in one of the formats .png, .jpg, .gif or .pdf and as a schema in a pure text file (in a format similar to task1.txt). Examples of tools:

Dia has (usually) nicer graphics, whereas Query Converter produces the schema automatically. You must in both cases use the translations specified in Lecture Notes, Section 3.3, and mark the keys and references properly.

Hint: if your diagram does not contain at least one weak entity, at least one ISA relationship, and at least one many-to-at-most-one relationship, you have probably done something wrong.

Functional dependencies

Your second task is to formulate all functional dependencies in the domain and derive a valid schema from them. This can (and must) be done independently of the E-R design and of the schema in task1.txt.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things you may want to consider when searching for functional dependencies: - department names and abbreviations - study programme names and abbreviations - branch names - student names and identification numbers - student programmes and branches - course names and codes - course classifications and prerequisites - course waiting lists

Nint: the Query Converter can automate much of the analysis, as soon as you have identified the functional dependencies yourself. It can get slow when the schema is very large, but you can then just reload the page to kill the process.

Deliverables: For Task 2, you should submit the following files through Fire

Criteria of acceptance:

Task 3: Triggers

When your tables and views are implemented in Task 1, the next task is to create two triggers to handle some key issues in registration and unregistration. Here is a piece of code to get you started on the first trigger:

Postgresql trigger example

But first, you should define one more view that can be used by your triggers, and your application in Task 1:

  1. When a student tries to register for a course that is full, that student is added to the waiting list for the course. Be sure to check that the student may actually register for the course before adding to either list, if it may not you should raise an error (use RAISE EXCEPTION). Hint: There are several requirements for registration stated in the domain description, and some implicit ones like that a student can not be both waiting and registered for the same course at the same time.
  2. When a student unregisters from a course if the student was properly registered and not only on the waiting list, the first student (if any) in the waiting list should be registered for the course instead. Note: this should only be done if there is actually room on the course (the course might have been over-full due to an administrator overriding the restriction and adding students directly).

    You need to write the triggers on the view Registrations instead of on the tables themselves (the view was built in task 1 above). (One reason for this is that we "pretend" that you only have the privileges listed under Task 4, which means you cannot insert data into, or delete data from, the underlying tables directly. But even if we lift this restriction, there is another reason for not defining these triggers on the underlying tables - can you figure out why?)

    Testing. we will prepare test cases (in SQL) for testing both insertion and deletion to check the triggers work. These tests will be applied automatically in Fire when the lab registration is open.

Deliverables. For task 3, you should hand in the following files:

Make sure that PostgreSQL can execute your files before you hand them in.

Task 4: Front end application in JDBC

The last part of this assignment is to write an application that students can use to communicate with your database. This application should be a Java program that uses JDBC to connect to the PostgreSQL database to request and insert the proper data.

To your help when writing your application we provide you with a stub file that contains the code for connecting to PostgreSQL on the local system. It also contains hooks for the three operating modes of the application, and this is where you should insert your code. The idea is that you should not need to focus so much on the pure Java parts of the application, but rather get straight down to business with the database-interfacing code.

The stub file is here:

The intended behavior of the program is that you use it from the command line, giving some student identification number as an argument (what exactly that is depends on your design). This corresponds to the student "logging on" to the portal. Once logged on, the student can choose one of the three modes "Information", "Register" or "Unregister". If the first is chosen, all information for that student should be printed. Exactly what information must be printed is given by the system requirements specified above. If one of the latter modes are chosen, the student will be prompted for a course to register to or unregister from, and the application should perform the requested operation and print the result (success, failure).

The stub file can be compiled and run as it is, only nothing will happen in any of the modes. Your task is thus to fill in the actual logic of these three tasks.

Running your application could look like this:

      $> java StudentPortal 123456-7890
      Please choose a mode of operation:
      ? > i
      Information for student 123456-7890
      Name: Emilia Emilsson
      Student ID: emem
      Line: Information Technology (IT)
      Branch: Systems Development
      Read courses (name (code), credits: grade):
       Set Theory (MAT050), 5p: 5
       Functional Programming (TDA450), 10p: 5
       Object-Oriented Systems Development (TDA590), 10p:  4
      Registered courses (name (code): status):
       Databases (TDA356): registered
       Algorithms (TIN090): waiting as nr 3
      Seminar courses taken: 0
      Math credits taken: 5
      Research credits taken: 0
      Total credits taken: 25
      Fulfills the requirements for graduation: no
      Please choose a mode of operation:
      ? > r TDA350
      You are now successfully registered to course TDA350 Cryptograhy!
      Please choose a mode of operation:
      ? > r TDA381
      Course TDA381 Concurrent Programming is full, you are put in the
      waiting list.
      Please choose a mode of operaion:
      ? > quit

Note that the exact formatting is only a suggestion: you may choose to format your output differently as long as you give the proper information back to the user.

To get access to the PostgreSQL jdbc drivers from your application, you should download it from and import it into your java CLASSPATH.

Alternatively you can import the file into an Eclipse project if you are using Eclipse.

Your student application should behave as if it has only the following privileges:

We will check your submitted code to ensure that you adhere to these privileges, even though we cannot get the system to enforce them automatically.


This time, no automated tests are performed by Fire. We will have personal grading instead: you must come to one of the supervision sessions and demonstrate your running application, and we will accept or reject it on the spot (pending the check of the submitted code for authority violations).

All lab sessions starting from Monday 5 March are available for grading, which should take around 10 minutes per group. In addition, we will arrange two extra lab sessions in the exam week (Monday and Thursday).

As you probably realize, if all of you wait until the last session, we will quite simply not have time for everyone, so come as early as possible!

Here is a list of what we will test your application for:

  1. List info for a student.
  2. Register the student for an unrestricted course, and show that they end up registered (show info again).
  3. Register the same student for the same course again, and show that the program doesn't crash, and that the student gets an error message.
  4. Unregister the student from the course, and then unregister again from the same course. Show that the student is unregistered.
  5. Register the student for a course that they don't have the prerequisites for, and show that the registration doesn't go through.
  6. Unregister the student from a restricted course that they are registered to, and which has at least two students in the queue. Register again to the same course and show that the student gets the correct (last) position in the waiting list.
  7. Register, unregister and re-register the same student for the same restricted course, and show that the student is first removed and then ends up in the same position as before (last).
  8. Finally, unregister a student from an overfull course, i.e. one with more students registered than there are places on the course (you need to set this situation up in the database directly). Show that no student was moved from the queue to being registered as a result.

Ensure that the data you have put into your system can handle all these cases. Please prepare before you ask us to check your application, so that running through these cases will be smooth. Please fill the following form before demonstration: demo form.

You must demo your working project before or on the last lab session.